film · film review · Musical · review

The Greatest Showman

I’ve tackled book reviews, theatre shows, trips to museums and galleries — but now it’s time to try a different genre.

I always advocate that the book is better than the film — but what about those films not based on books? The stories that use this platform as a unique story telling experience, and one that can only do it justice.

The Greatest Showman is a cinematic experience from start to finish, visually exciting, the music embodies the tale; enhancing the feeling the story conveys. The music is a triumph that stays with you long after the final credits. There are dreams of a better future, fantasies that can come true and a mindset that the world is yours to take . A message that seems very poignant today.

Yet there are a few downsides to this dream-state world — each issue in the storyline is quickly resolved — making life appear perfect. The gambles of every decision seem insignificant as the reward is instant. A theme that certainly wasn’t true in the real life of P.T. Barnum, but this can maybe be forgiven in the showmanship of Barnum, he’s a storyteller after all.

For any fan of musical theatre this is a film for you, a chance to see a man live a life of showmanship, regardless of the consequences.

After all, we have P.T.Barnum to thank for the entertainment industry of today — entertainment for everyone, and I think that is something worth seeing.

The Greatest Showman was released in the UK on 26th December.

London · Musical · review · The Book of Mormon · Theatre · West End

The Book of Mormon

I’ve wanted to see the Book of Mormon for quite a little while now, it’s a musical that I know very little about. Although it’s been in London’s West End for four years, it’s managed to keep its plot fairly secret if you don’t go looking too closely.

book-of-mormon-2

Although I’ve stood in line for the lottery on two different occasions, failing each time to be the lucky one, I finally booked tickets for the show. It was certainly well worth the wait.

The show is a spectacular twist of comedy and musical – combining the very best of both. I’ve never laughed so hard while being sat in the stalls, and briefly I think even the actors corpsed on stage. Occasionally when at the theatre, you have an audience that heightens every emotion of the show, we laughed together, gasped in shock together, and stood together for a well-deserved standing ovation. It certainly added to the atmosphere and in response the actors put on a brilliant show.

The songs are incredible, brilliantly slotted into the plot of the musical. There are unexpected moments around every corner as the plot twists and turns at every opportunity. A hilarious and clever production.

 

 

manchester · Musical · Palace Manchester · performance · review · Theatre

Billy Elliot

It’s not very often that we get great northern theatre — theatre based in the north but also about the north. Now that Billy Elliot’s tour has made its way to Manchester’s Palace Theatre the north is in for a treat.

The tale of Billy Elliot is heart warming from start to finish, it explore issues covering the miner strike of 1984/5 to one boy’s dream to dance. Yet it’s the little things that also matter in this tale, Billy’s desire to be accepted by his family and a community fighting for justice in amongst the ballet and boxing lessons.

billy-elliot

I am continuously amazed by the talent in these productions; Billy can sing, can act, and boy, he can certainly dance. You forget in each scene change it’s the same incredibly talented boy who has just danced, sung and acted weaving humour and emotions when required. The set too almost comes alive, and is amusingly mirrored during Billy’s audition at the Royal Ballet School.

This tale is certainly a treat and a wonderful introduction to musical theatre, if you’re around Manchester this Christmas, I would certainly recommend a trip.

Finding Neverland · Harry Potter · London · Musical · play · Preview · The Girls · Theatre · West End

Looking Forward to the West End

As Harry Potter and the Cursed Child begins to hold previews this week, it’s time to look forward to the plays and musicals that are soon to open.

cursed-child-palace-theaterI managed to gain Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tickets back in October, although I’ve still got five months until I see the play in November, the recent photo releases have certainly intrigued me. The world has been waiting for the next Potter instalment for nine years, and I am certainly excited to see what Harry has been up to. We will re-visit the magical world once again, it’s almost like going back home. The two-part play will be a first for me, an insight into splitting the story in two – but a whole day at the theatre can only be a good thing.

FindingNeverland0040_Rev02-OBC-1024x683Next on my list is Finding Neverland, I fell in love with the story, the music and the characters when I saw the original broadway cast in the Lunt-Fontanne theatre, New York. Thankfully, they’re flying the show over to London, landing in January 2017. I’m looking forward to re-emerging myself into the story of how Peter become Pan, a story within a story, full of life, laughter and sorrow.

Finally, Gary Barlow’s The Girls is ready to make it’s West End debut in 2017. Having seen The Girls premiere in The Lowry, Manchester; the musical was one destined for London’s stage. It’s depiction of Yorkshire was amusingly realistic, and the songs full of humour and heartache. It’s a musical to make you laugh and cry.

So I have a few theatre trips to plan, and many more plays to review this autumn and winter. Are there any new play you’re looking forward to?

London · Musical · Phantom of the Opera · review · Theatre · West End

The Phantom of the Opera

The first May bank holiday arrived, and with the sun shining, I headed to London for the long weekend and, of course, a musical.

Phantom - boatCurrently in its 30th year, phantom had been scaring the stage and keeping the audience on their toes in critical acclaim. It’s been a musical I’ve been waiting to see for a while. Full of suspense and the power of music. Yet I was surprised by the many stories told within this tale. The original opera working in parallel to the Phantom’s own musical. It’s an incredible act of story telling. While simultaneously creating a range of emotions which take the audience through this journey.

Further to this, the elaborate staging enhanced the story line, the boat through the Phantom’s later was incredible to watch, a space full of suspense, appeared intimate despite the full house. Let alone the many secrets spaces the Phantom himself managed to hide within, taking me by surprise each time.

It was a breathtaking experience, the incredible cast and music kept the audience spell-bound throughout. It made me wish, once again, that I could somehow be apart of this theatre world, but we’ll just have to see what time will bring.

phantom

The Phantom of the Opera is playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre, this classic is not to be missed.

Broadway · exhibitions · London · Musical · play · review · Theatre · West End

Curtain Up at the V&A

IMG_6145As the Olivier Awards turn 40, the V&A has created an exhibition exploring the last four decades of theatre, plays and musicals on West End and Broadway. It was evident I needed to go and have a look.

Featuring backstage details, first scripts, notes and editorial requests, I felt as though I was getting a small glimpse into the hidden side of theatre. The exhibition held design plans, amazingly scaled model boxes, costume designs and even lightening plans, it shows just how much work is required to begin the staging process, let alone the ongoing work once a production has started.

There were interactive elements, allowing you to arrange the sound of Hairspray, balancing the singers and musicians alike. Equally a lighting deck presented the many spotlights and various coordination of lighting available to the light managers each evening. It showcased the work required for each production to even exist, the detail of plans and notes to ensure each show is perfect.

I also learned a lot more of the world of theatre, various facts and figures were presented across the exhibition, showing the difference between West End and Broadway productions but also the similarities and incredible records some productions held to their name.

IMG_6147It was great to see the set and costume designs for one of my favourite shows: Matilda, to see the essence of the character in each sketch and the grand scale of the stage. Alongside stepping into the stage of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, allowing you to feel the confusion Christopher goes through on stage.

If you’re around London and a theatre fan, it’s an exhibition not to be missed. The exhibition is at the V&A until 31st August before it moves to New York.

manchester · Musical · play · review · The Girls · The Lowry · Theatre · Yorkshire

The Girls

Gary Barlow, Tim Firth and the Calendar Girls credit John Swannell

The Girls held its world premier at The Lowry this week, having seen the West End play a fair few years ago, I was intrigued to see how a new production of the same story would be unleashed. I was pleasantly surprised. The music added a new dimension to the tale; it allowed the characters to express their thoughts and feelings in a deeper sense then words alone can convey. It encapsulated the humour and sadness the story manages to conquer, holding and carrying the story through the music.

Being a Yorkshire girl across the roses border, The Girls made me feel very patriotic to my county, the introductory number Yorkshire, shouting proudly of the dales and fells I call home. It shows the relationship people have with their home, the pride to be a part of the community and desire to belong. It is after all the community spirit alone that triumphs in this story, the daring to stand together, and it’s surprising just what can come out of it.

Gary Barlow, Tim Firth and the original Calendar Girls credit Matt CrockettThere was the expected sad delicate numbers that deal with loss, grief and sometimes the denial of death, beautifully written and projected to the audience. Yet alongside great sadness, comes great joy. The humour brought by Claire Moor as Chris, whipping her bra off on the fell, and the humiliation of our parents every teenager goes through is conveyed expertly by the young actors playing Danny, Tommo and Jenny.

Let alone to how brilliantly the calendar shoot is played by all of ‘The Girls’, it was done in elegance, amusement and humour. Yet, best of all I felt the audience were laughing with the nervous characters on stage, impressed and amazed by the bravery the actors put on show. It was tasteful; it was funny and entertained the whole audience.

Everything from the stage set, the music to the actors was brilliant, it deepened my current understanding of The Calendar Girls story, and proves the bravery and determination of one set of ruthless WI girls. It’s an incredible true story, which only heightens the pressure and exposure of the show, a musical that brings more to life then music and words, a story to be shared.

 

The Girls deserved its standing ovation; make sure to catch this show, while you still can. The Girls is playing at the Lowry until 30th January 2016.